Sunday, 27 August 2017

Slept better last night. Was able to take care of a few things before I left for the day. Washed clothes, more travel planning, tossed out old SIM cards, and generally getting ready for some well-planned adventures over the next few weeks. Looking forward to meeting up with family and friends.

One thing that I’ve been putting off is getting the face of my old phone fixed. I had dropped it in Westminster Abbey last December and now I can’t see anything on the display. Really handy to have a second phone ready to go if I need it. I’ll be able to get it back when I return to London at the end of September.

The only thing I had planned for today was to tour Clarence House, now home of Prince Charles and Camilla but was also the home of the Queen Mother for 50 years. Paula gave it rave reviews – so followed up on her recommendation.

I walked though St. James’s Park and over a bridge that spans the park’s lake. A beautiful day and people, like me, were enjoying the warm (but not too warm) weather. I took pictures each direction from the bridge, then when I got to The Mall, took a picture of the Victoria statue and Buckingham Palace.

Clarence House has been lived in by many members of the royal family since the early 1800’s. Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip lived there before she became queen. Princess Margaret too with the Queen Mother before she married. It is physically connected to St. James’s Palace, which now a working palace rather than a home for the royal family, but is the actual palace of the Royal Court of St. James. Confusing? Yes!

It was a guided tour through the “state” rooms of the home. The ones that guests who are invited get to see. And tourists like us. The group was small and we could interact with the guide. So much history in the house and looks very much like when the Queen Mother lived there, with a few exceptions. Many interesting stories about most everything hanging on the walls, furniture, and layout of the rooms. Considering all that occurred in her 50 years there, it is a living museum. I sent a Thank You to Paula for her recommendation. A hidden treasure for those who are interested in 20th century royal history.

After the tour I walked around, looking for inspiration for what to do next. Covent Garden came to mind and proceeded to walk in that direction. At Trafalgar Square I saw The National Gallery. To be honest, I was thinking about finding a men’s room and knew there would be one there. But I hadn’t visited this museum, so in I went.

Took a picture of the building against the fountain at Trafalgar Square. There seem to be places in the city that I’m drawn to, and this was one of them.

After entering The National Gallery I forgot all about the men’s room and walked through room after room of amazing works of art – over 2,300 in the collection. I found a few that were of interest. I saw Van Gogh’s Sunflowers and asked a guide about it. She said that there are five versions of this painting, all by Van Gogh, and this was one of them. I had seen another at the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam. There is a Facebook page that has all 5 painting displayed. Who knew? The other was a room-sized picture of Charles I on a horse.

At the end of an hour, I was done. Good time to find a men’s room and move on to Covent Garden. The Portrait Gallery is close by – maybe I’ll visit there before I leave London in a few days.

I remember walking to Covent Garden to meet Paula last December for a Christmas recital at St. Paul’s Church (not the Cathedral) and hadn’t been back there since. Today was Sunday and must have been a day when many were in their finest upscale clothes. I walked through the market and then knew I was getting hungry.

I was thinking about Italy and saw on Facebook that Tom and Dana had arrived in Italy for their 25th wedding anniversary. I’ll be joining them week after next in Monterosso, Italy. Now I’m looking for an Italian restaurant. Found Cicchetti and it looked like what I was looking for – and was pleasantly surprised. The staff were all Italian, very formal and welcoming. Small dishes, but the food was perfection. Even better with a good glass of Chianti.

Olives and Bread, Crab & Avocado Salad, Risotto with Lobster

I took my time walking to the Embankment Station for the ride back to the flat. Wanted to enjoy the fine weather along the way. While walking I knew that my time in London was coming to a close and I’m okay with that. I’m beginning to know when it’s time to move on.

Tomorrow I’ll move back into the Paddington Hilton so my room is available for an Airbnb visitor to Prean and Viktor’s flat. Also meeting up with Paula too.


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